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A happy new year for democracy

Posted on January 15, 2014 by

Whatever your political views, this is a very important year. The commentators, the politicians and the so-called experts will all be heard ad nauseam – but ultimately it’s you and me, the ‘ordinary’ people of Scotland, who will decide our nation’s future.


But however Scotland votes in September, what is even more important is that the people of this country seize this opportunity to take our democracy back. For whether we’re governed from Westminster or Holyrood is almost irrelevant unless democracy – real democracy – is reawakened.

I’ll lay my cards on the table. I’m an Old Labour man – real Labour as I like to see it. I’ve never really bought into New Labour, or more recently One Nation Labour. I joined the Labour Party thirty years ago – the year of the miners’ strike – when Labour was a movement, not a commodity to be renamed, rebranded and repackaged.

It’s a long time ago now, but back then politics seemed a simple, straightforward affair. Labour was left wing, the Tories were right wing and you knew on which side of the barricade you stood. Public ownership, a strong welfare state and supporting the most vulnerable – or rampant capitalism, greed and let the poorest take care of themselves.

The working classes versus the toffs: that’s simplifying it too much, of course. Working class people queued in their tens of thousands to snap up their council houses at bargain basement rates, and some were delighted to fill their boots with shares in the big utilities too – but you get my point. The poll tax, Wapping, the strike – you knew which side you were on. The Tories, if not your sworn enemies, were at least your opponents. Party members on both sides believed in things.

Politics today is different, though – where once party politics was driven by core beliefs and ideology, now everything’s seemingly expendable, disposable. Politics is a business, a career choice. Forget manifestos written in blood on tablets of stone, there’s now no policy that can’t be publicly ditched in the quest for power.

Labour moves to the right to pinch Tory votes, the Tories shuffle further right to stop theirs leaking to UKIP,  the Lib Dems get into bed with the Tories for ministerial cars, and we’re left with three identikit centre-right parties who appear indistinguishable.


The rosettes may be different colours but the policies are much the same. What do they believe in? ‘Social justice’, ‘fairness’, ‘supporting hard-working families,’ they all earnestly reply in unison. Yes, quite, and of course they all salute ‘our brave troops’ and praise ‘our wonderful nurses’. So how do we tell them apart?

And now, with a referendum just months away, we have Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem uniting to save the Union. Grown-up politics, they call it, but it’s not that at all: this is a marriage of convenience, an arranged marriage and the sight of Cameron, Darling and Carmichael all singing from the same hymn sheet makes me feel decidedly uncomfortable.

Labour vilifies the Tories for introducing the ‘bedroom tax’ and other punitive welfare reforms, the Tories lambast Labour for lax immigration policies and financial mismanagement on a massive scale, and yet both are content to put their differences aside and unite with these very same people in a titanic struggle against the new enemy within, the new baddies – the Nationalists – to heroically save the precious Union. This referendum ‘transcends’ party politics, we’re told (even as they bust a gut to make it all about the SNP).

I agree the referendum transcends party politics – something as important as this simply can’t be left to politicians – but is this really about saving the Union? Perhaps it’s really more about preserving the status quo? Better Together? Certainly better for career politicians, who are by by nature small-c conservative; they don’t want major change or anything that may upset the established order – particularly one that might lose them their seat. But what about democracy?

At present we have Westminster elections every four or five years. Elections will be won by party A, who these days may have to form a coalition with Party B to take power. Party C will have a spell in opposition. A few years down the line, another election. Party B wins this time, and perhaps governs with the help of Party C while Party A take their turn in opposition.

Cosy, comfortable – why change something that works so well? The voting public gets to have their say every five years or so; surely everybody’s happy?


Well, no. In the 1950s, one person in ten was a member of a political party. Today, it’s fewer than one in a hundred. People are disillusioned with party politics and sickened by career politicians who seem more interested in self-service than public service. People don’t trust politicians, so they disengage from politics and so from democracy. Look at the turnouts at elections – people are scunnered with today’s party politics.

The nation’s top doers and thinkers, the men and women with ideas who would naturally lead our country, instead choose a life in commerce, the arts, academia or science other than the grubby world of politics, and as a result we are left with an ever-decreasing pool of political ‘leaders’ to shape our nation’s future.

(It’s remarkable how little Labour’s personnel changed after its defeat in 2010. Almost all the same politicians who were at the time held to have been massive failures, all possible credibility destroyed by the economic crash, are now waiting for another turn at power. Really only Brown and Darling have stepped aside, and rumours persist of Darling’s return to replace Ed Balls once the referendum is over.)

Today, with a handful of exceptions, we are hardly blessed with a generation of political giants. With such a dearth of talent and lack of credible opposition Alex Salmond bestrides Scotland’s political stage like a colossus, ably supported by Nicola Sturgeon. Had Salmond not been at the helm of the SNP do you think we would have been voting to determine Scotland’s future in September?

People may not like Alex Salmond, but they do respect him – however grudging that respect may be. A respected politician is a rare thing these days, and perhaps it’s little wonder. Remember the furore over MPs’ expenses? We put them there to represent us, but instead they stole from us, cheated and lie to us. Some have gone on to the House of Lords to continue to fill their boots, clocking in for 15 minutes for £300 a day. Nice money if you can get it. As the noble Baron Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull succinctly put it: “It’s better than working”.

When the scale of expenses scandal was exposed, you might have thought that furious citizens would have taken to the streets to protest, as they would in other countries and as we ourselves have done in the past. But not us, not these days: some short-lived indignation, a few sacrificial lambs, some smacked wrists and it’s back to business as usual. Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost the will to fight, to question, to challenge. And now they talk about a wage rise for MPs – to stop them stealing from us again.

We meekly accept pensioners dying from cold while the big energy companies continue to make obscene profits. We accept the sell-off to the wealthy few of national assets like Royal Mail – assets that should belong to all of us – and at bargain basement rates too. You might expect it from the Tories, but Labour’s complaint? Not that they sold it off, but that they sold it off a bit too cheaply.


When Mandela died, we saw the old film footage once again of snaking queues of people that seemed to stretch forever, waiting patiently and joyously to cast their first ever vote in a free election. Democracy should be such a precious thing, but for too many of us it now seems that even turning up once every few years to put a cross in a box is just too much to ask. “What’s the point? They’re all the same. It changes nothing”. And, increasingly, it’s difficult to argue against that attitude.

Only recently, a substantial number of Labour MPs ‘paired’ with Tories and absented themselves from an important debate on welfare reforms and the bedroom tax. Important? Maybe, but clearly not as important as upholding the noble traditions and fine conventions of the Palace of Westminster. All in it together? You bet!

But while political parties carry much of the blame for this breakdown in democracy, we have to share that blame too. We have allowed this to happen. In the end, we get the politicians we deserve.

This year’s referendum, the debate that precede it and the negotiations that will follow it, offers an opportunity to reinvigorate our democracy; an opportunity to take democracy – something precious that belongs to all of us – back into public ownership. We all have a responsibility to future generations to bring about that change, because the party career politicians can’t be trusted to do it.

The challenge will be to engage many, many more people in the discussion – not only the politicians, the commentators, the vested interests, the ‘experts’. The party political establishment has a stranglehold on democracy and that has got to change. For without wider public debate and discussion, and a fundamental change to the way our political system works (or doesn’t), real democracy will continue to wither and die.

For me, Westminster is now totally discredited; the Honourable Members’ corrupt practices aside, its anachronistic customs and procedures have no place in a modern democracy. The establishment parliamentarians’ unwillingness to reform the House of Lords proves that even minimal modernisation is unlikely, and so more radical change is unthinkable – the current cosy setup suits too many insiders very nicely, thank you.


So in September, Scotland has an opportunity to radically change the way we do politics, and if we truly value our democracy we have a responsibility to vote Yes.

Holyrood isn’t perfect, but it has done well to avoid the worst excesses of Westminster. By choosing self-government we would at least have the opportunity to shape our own parliamentary democracy; to make it more inclusive, working for the benefit of all of the people and not just a privileged few. Like democracy is supposed to be. And by taking responsibility for our own future, we’d have no-one to blame but ourselves if it didn’t work. Just the way it should be.

Power to the people? Now there’s a thought.


David Pickering is an Edinburgh journalist.

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100 to “A happy new year for democracy”

  1. Peter A Bell says:

    I totally disagree that it is irrelevant – or even “almost irrelevant” – whether we are governed from Holyrood or Westminster. Popular sovereignty is fundamental to true democracy and the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, which is a defining characteristic of the British state, is totally incompatible with the principle of popular sovereignty.

  2. heraldnomore says:

    Oh yes; doff’s bunnet, sir

  3. Jim Arnott says:

    Now that’s a fine piece of writing from a journalist. Let’s have more of this from the rest of the Scottish MSM.

  4. Bill Fraser says:

    ‘…It’s about preserving the status quo…’

    Give that man a banana for speaking the truth! As Derek Bateman commented recently … Will we be the First Nation in History to vote AGAINST independence ?

  5. Dick Gaughan says:

    Thank you. This should be read by every Labour voter – past and present – in Scotland. It makes it absolutely clear that it’s more than simply our independence we’re voting on; it is democracy itself that is at stake.

    Can any of us face the prospect of having our grandchildren ask us, “What was democracy and why did you let them take it away?”

  6. alexicon says:

    Sentiments straight from the heart.
    I’m sure many Scots associate themselves with the words in this article.

  7. benarmine says:

    I’m past caring about democracy in the UK, if they want it they can shift for themselves. For me it’s all about getting Scotland out of it and moving on to better things, and not looking back.

  8. heedtracker says:

    ‘Westminster is now totally discredited’ but they succeeded in making London and the South East of England one of the richest places in the world.

  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I totally disagree that it is irrelevant – or even “almost irrelevant” – whether we are governed from Holyrood or Westminster. “

    In fairness, the context of that is “…if our democracy is totally broken”.

  10. Jim Arnott says:

    Peter A Bell,

    The thrust of the argument is democracy but the author acknowledges that Westminster is so discredited that it is impossible to see democracy reinstated under the Westminster system of privilege. The author also urges a Yes vote in September.

  11. pa_broon74 says:

    Good piece.

    On the irrelevancy of geography, if nobody is voting then it sort of is irrelevant, which is how I took it.

    The other bit that sticks out is:

    “What’s the point? They’re all the same. It changes nothing”

    The referendum is the time to change things. Holyrood will go the way of Westminster, all governments get complacent and need a kick up the arse, but we’d have at least a life time of decent government before that happens and as Mrs Howden said:

    “I dinna ken muckle about the law,” answered Mrs Howden; “but I ken, when we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament-men o’ our ain, we could aye peeble them wi’ stanes when they werena gude bairns – Bit naebody’s nails can reach the length o’ Lunnon.”

    My favourite quote on the topic.


  12. Chic McGregor says:

    Standing ovation from me.

    Would just add, we should make sure there is real choice so the people can decide the ultimate direction of our nation.

  13. Ewan MacKenzie says:

    Salmond and Sturgeon are rightly praised for their abilities,here and elsewhere, but we’ve been seeing more of Stewart Hosie MP lately, and I’ve been very impressed. I’m quite sure he has an even brighter future once he’s out of a job a Westminster.

  14. Peter A Bell says:

    I did read the article. I just thought the point about popular sovereignty was worth making. It is a point that is always worth making. Particularly in the context of the referendum debate. People need to be aware that a No vote is a denial of popular sovereignty and an affirmation of a political system which is unquestionably broken beyond redemption.

  15. themadmurph says:

    Good article, but democracy cannot flourish under the UK system, especially for the people of Scotland. Our only chance of anything approaching democracy is to vote YES.

  16. Ken500 says:

    Bookie’s odds have totally changed. Hedging the bets.

    6-1 N0 4-1 YES. Limited stakes.

    The tide is turning. YES.

  17. Jim Arnott says:

    I totally agree Peter that we need to hammer home at every opportunity just how awful a No vote would be for the people of Scotland.

  18. Mealer says:

    That’s a nicely written and thought provoking piece,thanks.I do have some issues with it.Firstly,as Peter above says,it is extremely relevant who wins.Also,The author seems to hark back with fondness to the days when there were barricades between the sides.If you look at the most successful,fair and equal countries in the world you find that they have a wholly different attitude.Workers and management on the same side.OK,I know it isn’t all quite as rosy as that.And I know that it’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing.Believing in free education and free health care used to spread across other political divides.I think it still does among the general Scottish population.Yet Tory,Labour and LIbdem policy is against it.They are going in a direction that we don’t want to travel.We have to vote YES to get what we want.

  19. Paul Martin says:

    Fantastic piece by local Edinburgh journalist Dave Pickering, so glad that its now appearing on WoS and getting a Scotland-wide audience. We’re seeing more and more *real* Labour people coming out for Yes all the time… Thanks to Dave and thanks to WoS for hosting the article!

  20. Andy-B says:

    Good piece David, so many truthful points put across, as you say Westminster want to keep the status quo, whilst cutting block grants to the home nations. Apathy does seem to run deeply through the electorate, with the attitude of whats the point of voting.

    You rightly point out that no adequate punishment has been dished out to corrupt politicians and bankers who robbed the public purse blind.

    As for Westminster its such an arcane institution and very unlikely to change its ways in the future.
    No the only hope for Scots is independence, in which the people of Scotland have a chance to shape not only the country but the government within that country.In turn hopefully this should bring to the fore a new generation of politician, that will serve Scots well. Or so I hope.

  21. david says:

    over the past few weeks ive talked about the referendum to approx 10-12 people i have never met before, not 1 has been a no voter. i dont believe the polls.

  22. caz-m says:

    STV 6 pm news headlines was like a fuckin London Labour Party political broadcast. They just can’t wait to get their beloved Labour Party back in power in Westminster.

  23. david says:

    Bookie’s odds have totally changed. Hedging the bets.

    6-1 N0 4-1 YES. Limited stakes.

    do you mean 1/6 no?

  24. Flower of Scotland says:

    Thanks Dave Pickering . Nice piece . Johann , Ruth , Willie and their cronies are fighting for their political lives ! They must know their careers are finished if we vote YES.

  25. ElaineS says:

    As a real Labour voter of many years and 2 years ago became a Yes voter,common sense finally kicked in especially after reading facts aboutIndy but also realisation that New Labour and Miliband’s pathetic One Nation con had pretty much destroyed any remnents of real Labour.Independence apart from being the only positive path for Scotland but the only way real Labour voters can see return of Real grass roots Labour. More and more Labour voters are turning to a Yes vote,many keep it close to their chests..that’s the people that will get Yes past the winning post.

  26. Ian Brotherhood says:

    For anyone who hasn’t yet seen this – George Carlin’s ‘American Dream’. It’s had almost 4.75 million YT hits, and no wonder:

    “Forget the politicians – politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything…”

  27. Bogindollo says:

    Ken500 at 5.47pm

    I think you’ll find the odds are 1-6 NO and 4-1 YES. Although on Paddy Power, they are shortening the Yes Vote to 7/2.

    From memory, I think YES was 6-1 about a year ago and 9/2 about 6 months ago. Has anyone taken better odds than 6-1 YES?

  28. Geoff Huijer says:

    If Independence comes about I woud love to see
    some sort of law that makes it illegal for Party
    political leaflets to lie.

    We all know politicians can ‘spin’ the truth but out
    and out lies should not be tolerated.

    There should also be, I dunno, some sort of simple
    Top Ten list of Party policies (e.g on NHS, Welfare)
    stating what the Party believs in. The public aren’t
    going to wade through a manifesto.

    It should be crystal clear what each Party stands
    for on the ‘important’ issues.

    I know so many Labour voters who still believe
    they are the ‘Party of the poor’ and yet don’t know
    that Labour plan being ‘tougher’ on welfare etc.

    Some Parties are stealing votes by confusing, or
    indeed, flat out lying.

  29. Andy-B says:

    Heres the link to William Hague and Danny Alexander story both of whom are coming to Glasgow on Friday, to preach about the benefits of staying in the union, though I can’t think of one myself, maybe you can.

  30. orkers says:


    William Hill has it as 5 to 1 on a ‘No’ vote and 7 to 2 against a ‘Yes’ vote.

    I would reckon this is the UK market odds and not the Scottish figure, if indeed one exists.

    Last time I looked four or five months ago it was 7 or 8 to 1 against a ‘Yes’ vote, so the odds are definitely shortening.

  31. call me dave says:

    David Crawley, a former career civil servant with extensive experience of European negotiations, said it is “largely accepted” that Scotland would be welcomed into the EU eventually, but that the 18-month timetable “seems unrealistic”.

    Half a step forward then, until you read the rest of the article, one of a few planned for a blitz tomorrow from the Herald.

  32. Fergus Green says:

    Article just appeared in the politics section of the Courier website saying SNP Independence Timetable Labelled Wishful Thinking. It contains quotes from what the Courier call experts and academics, all from the unionist side. The article is open to comments if anyone has a contribution to offer.

  33. An excellent piece, though I agree wholeheartedly with Peter A Bell that popular sovereignty is fundamental to the difference between Holyrood and Westminster and hence to the difference between the politics of Scotland and rUK.

    Far from being constitutional legal niceties, these ancient constitutional legal traditions are fundamental to our way of life, governance and prosperity. Look what happened to Gaeldom when its constitutional traditions were ripped from it and its Chiefs, albeit there by tanist succession but only followed as long as they served their people, were turned into English educated Landlords.

    Without mentioning the Udaller tradition of Medieval and Early Modern Scandinavian Scotland, Chris Silver touches on similar themes in his excellent piece for Shetland News today: A Nordic Future for Shetland?

  34. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Can I make my position very clear. I don’t care what kind of shithole a Scottish Parliament might lurch into. It would still be our parliament, answerable to us and its condition would be within our ability to sort.

    Sir Walter Scott got it in the Heart of Midlothian

    “When we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament-men o’ our ain, we could aye peeble them wi’ stanes when they werena gude bairns – But naebody’s nails can reach the length o’ Lunnon.”

  35. Baheid says:

    Willian Hill online has been 7/2 Yes & 1/5 No, since 13/14th of December.

    Highest I’ve seen, 11/2 Yes & 1/10 No. That was on 15th Nov.

    Don’t ask me why, but I’ve been keeping a note of the odds since Nov last year. (When I started putting a few babees on every few weeks).

  36. caz-m says:

    @Call me Dave

    Perhaps Mr Crawley could tell me, on what date do I become a non-European citizen.

  37. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    On betting here’s a couple of mouth watering bets available on Ladbrokes
    YES 50-55% 7/1
    YES 55- 60% 9/1
    I am confident we will get over 50%. I’m just worried we might get over 60% and sink my bets

  38. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I see the 9/1 has gone.
    It’s now 7/1 55% or over

    The dogs are barking…

  39. msean says:

    Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Can I make my position very clear. I don’t care what kind of shithole a Scottish Parliament might lurch into. It would still be our parliament, answerable to us and its condition would be within our ability to sort.

    Agreed,we will sort it ourselves if we end up in a hole,however,we won’t-it will work just fine.

  40. MochaChoca says:

    I’m looking forward to voting for the candidate that I most agree with rather than the candidate who represents the party who are most likely to keep out the party I least agree with.

    To me that’s what democracy should be about.

  41. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Courier link

    Spook. The Herald article word-for-word, as far as I can see.

  42. “hammer home at every opportunity just how awful a No vote would be for the people of Scotland.”

    Yes, there is the possibility that the outcome of independence will not be as we hope, but we know for fact saying NO means greater austerity, less security, and ever increasing irrelevancy within the UK as Scotland’s population comprises a smaller and smaller fraction of the whole.

    More succinctly: Voting YES risks failure; voting NO guarantees it.

  43. Desimond says:

    Democracy is dead and so is the media…hopefully this is a new dawn and a new day.

    Watching BBC coverage of Alex Salmond launching our Salmon Season was pathetic…trailer had voice-over with the video showing 2 unknown people in a fishing boat wearing novelty Union Jack top-hats. Stay Classy BBC Scotland!

  44. Murray McCallum says:

    A ‘No’ vote is increasingly looking like the voter has succumbed to the self-preservation rhetoric of the Westminster establishment.

    Bit by bit more and more people are searching and finding information. There is a long way to go yet.

  45. Dick Gaughan says:

    re the Herald/Courier article, there appears to be a bit of position shuffling going on. First it was “you’ll no be allowed in the club” then it was “well you might be allowed to rejoin but it’s unlikely” now it’s “of course you’ll be allowed to rejoin – but it’ll take a long time”.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  46. Brian Powell says:

    Over the last few years and certainly since the Independence Referendum ‘debate’ took hold in the last two years, I started to redefine what I considered democracy to be.

    The Wikileaks and Snowdon revelations helped form my opinion. Of course Iraq and Afghanistan should be included.

    I now consider democracy to be about latitudes for compliance. In very repressive regimes the latitude where compliance is expected is small, bringing a quick reaction from the state.

    Independence for Scotland has created a large degree of non-compliance, and we can now see the reaction from the state and other parts of the establishment, such as the Labour Party.

    The reaction has been slower but it is becoming just as oppressive. It doesn’t always need weapons and sudden visits in the middle of the night from security services to be oppressive.

    Censorship and self-censorship of various kinds in the media is one sign. The catalogue of lies from Labour, ConDems and media commentators have been well described and dissected here on Wings and other websites.

    I’ve said in other comments I supported Labour, but don’t now. Its inability to move beyond central Party interests are betraying the people it claims to represent.

    The Independence movement; Parties, organisations and individuals, and their combined actions and ideas are the only way we can try to bring a return of democracy as I once understood it.

  47. Dick Gaughan says:

    Christian Wright
    Voting YES risks failure; voting NO guarantees it.

    Excellently put. Mind if I steal it for use elsewhere?

  48. Clootie says:

    I don’t care where a persons political values lie on the range from far left to far right. I just want him to be arguing for what he believes in and that in his view it is the best course for the people he represents.

    Politician / Candidate.
    I don’t want a career seeker who selects the best route to the top.
    I don’t want one who justifies surrendering key values in order to win power.
    I don’t want one who speaks the words of his morning brief from HQ instead of what he thinks.
    I don’t want one who supports the House of Lords in any shape or form.
    I don’t want one who defens an act which may not be illegal but certainly indicates a lack of morals (expenses/house flipping etc)

    Can’t be achieved?
    Then simply give the PEOPLE they represent the power to remove him/her when enough of us are sufficiently outraged.

  49. Alan Macd says:

    Ladbrokes are doing odd of 7-1 for 50-55% Yes and 7-1 for 55%+.
    Thats decent!

  50. John D says:

    Excellent article but for some reason i cannot share it

  51. morgan mc says:

    Yes Westminster is a shambles of self serving noses in the trough. However given that Holyrood and Westminster only debate and make 25% of the legislation that affects Scotland.I look forward to Wings turning its guns on Brusselsminster.

    Former EU Commissioners Kinnock on a £83k pension from Brussels is contractually obliged to speak positively about our continued rule from there.

    A great year for democracy is at hand go out and prove it on all fronts, not just the narrow myopic view that Westminster is the root cause of all of Scotlands woes.

  52. Les Wilson says:

    A very good article.

    There is a lot of references here about democracy, we have little of that, down to Westminster and it’s proxies and Unionist friends,the labour party and the Lib-Cons.

    Add in the MSM and of course the worst of all the BBC, and what we have is an affront to democracy. This from a government in Westminster that has the audacity to lecture the world on it.Try and impose democracy on countries to which has never had a need nor want for it.

    Yes, true democracy is a great ideal, but not by having it imposed by those who in truth, and do not practice it themselves and think they are so superior in every way.
    Fact is, democracy is for the people and if they choose it, then they should pursue it across all hurdles.

    Scotland’s chance to achieve real democracy is now, it is the responsibility of all of us grab it, for ourselves, to improve all our lives and the lives of coming generations.
    It IS up to us now to jump all the hurdles, ignore the naysayers and win the race.

  53. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “turning its guns on Brusselsminster”

    I suppose we must at least be grateful that you didn’t say “EUSSR”.

  54. gordoz says:

    Talented Labour polititians in scotland are not the problem any more as they dont really exist in a traditional sense. They have been replaced by the ‘one nation’ yes men/women. Look at them and at who their new kids on the block are. Tell me one who does not tow the party line ?

    They have no transformational new ideas, no vision, no ambition, no principled stance, or permanent policy position on any matter of substance.

    Scotland remains a cringeworthy area or source of origin, an embarrassment that only serves to elect the party drones and provide a flight path south for greater British glory, (oh and self- aggrandisement lets not forget).

    The real problem for YES is the traditional block Labour vote (as in Cowdenbeath), which to date still responds to either historic bigoted assertions of no currency or scaremongering of the unkown bogeyman and dangerous uncertainties of Seperation, (ie today DANGER; vote YES = Mortgage will go up).

    We need to keep chipping away, in face to face discussions to allay the fears via the scaremongering and lies which Labour have resorted to. Counter the TV & press bias with the brilliant material that WoS can provide.

    If Labour voters can be persuaded to see how far Labour and socialist values have fallen off the agenda; (so base as to be in bed with the Tories and relishing the prospect and cause of Britain at the expense of Scotland)if we can show a positive vision which includes their traditional social democratic values, at the heart of an independent Scotland, then we will have the momentum required.

    But make no mistake, we need their votes to win this; all Scotland needs us to persuade them for our children’s sake.

    Its a hard ask, but then if a jobs worth doing ….

  55. Doug Daniel says:

    That really is a terrible article from Academics Together in the Herald and Courier. They talk of Scotland joining the “orderly queue” along with Turkey. There is no queue, certainly not an orderly one. In the time since Turkey first applied to join in 1987, SIXTEEN countries have sumitted their initial application and been accepted into the EU. There’s no queue, countries just join when they meet the conditions – less than 3 years in Finland’s case, and not only were they starting from scratch (unlike Scotland) but they had to wait until the other countries that were being accepted met the requirements too.

    Utter pish. All the more insulting that both papers find it acceptable to just publish what they’ve been given.

  56. Lanarkist says:

    OT perhaps. On an article in the Guardian G. Osborne says about Britain and its relationship to EU.

    “It is clear what the British people want. They refuse to accept that, one size fits all, that change is impossible, that reform is doomed.”

    ” there is a simple choice for Europe: reform or decline. Our determination is clear: to deliver the reform, and then let the people decide.”

    Strange that this same individual thinks that this doesn’t equally apply to Scotland’s relationship to Westminster.

    If you replaced in this case, British for Scottish and Europe for Westminster then he might go some way to understanding the situation in the U.K, but this seems to be an impossible task. Much better to juggle two contradictory world views in the same head/political structure and all the resultant lies and twists of logic than apply to support the lie.

    Of course Osborne is thinking about his elite gang of party funders, friends and future employers, not U.K Citizens, Scots or any European citizens. Nothing too much trouble for his special friends.

    Corrupt of thought, deed and intention, much?

  57. jingly jangly says:

    It should be noted in big letters that it was the Labour party under Gordon Brown that introduced the “bedroom tax”. The Con/Dems have extended its reach to Social Housing but Labour thought of the idea!!!

  58. Diane Sutherland says:

    I could have written this article myself (although I have been SNP for 30 years not Labour) but what a well written and insightful article it is.

  59. morgan mc says:

    As this is a year for democracy Rev. Your analysis and thankfulness that I did not cite the un democratic EU as the “EUSSR”. Whilst I did not in that post do so I wonder if this would help clarify the situation from the policy think tank “Gatestone Institute”:

    “Ten of the 27 members of the European Commission, the EU’s executive, were on the side of repressive totalitarian rule during the Cold War. They were either Communist Party apparatchiks or anti-Western Marxist Socialists who considered the West as bad as the Soviet Union.

    Two of the current EU commissioners were members of the Soviet Communist Party (the Estonian Siim Kallas and the Latvian Andris Piebalgs), two were members of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party (the Czech Štefan Füle and the Slovak Maroš Šefcovi?), one was a member of the Yugoslav Communist Party (the Slovenian Janez Poto?nik), one was a member of the Greek Communist Party (Maria Damanaki), and one was a former member of the Portuguese Maoist Party (EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso).

    Two others were Marxist Social-Democrats close to the Communist Party (the Hungarian László Andor and the Spaniard Joaquín Almunia), and one, Catherine Ashton, was active in a Soviet sponsored “peace organization” attempting to prevent the West from defending itself against Soviet aggression”.

  60. msean says:

    To be fair,we have to win the referendum first before considering the future of the eu. It also helps to remember that we(Scots)will have more of a say with more representation as an independent nation. First things first,don’t get sidetracked.

  61. call me dave says:

    David Torrance.

    Trying to breathe life into Carmichael’s famous list of 20 reasons to bide in the union and saying how brave the Daily Mail article was re: moral duty…

    Nothing to write home to my mother about, does he have any opinion, or just a fence sitter?

  62. big_al says:

    @morgan mc

    Where does this 25% you speak of come from. Do we have a link?

  63. velofello says:

    The Conservatives, Labour, and the Lib Dems are effectively utilities management companies bidding for the 5 year franchise to run the UK. Political principles and ideals are long gone. The peoples of the North of England really should be travelling up to Scotland to support the Yes campaign with the objective of breaking the Westminster system of management.

  64. morgan mc says:

    My figure comes from the Holyrood parliament European Strategy by Andy Kerr MSP in 2004. When he indicated that over three quarters of debate relating to matters devolved or reserved had its origins in Brussels.

    I’ll let you search for it as I don’t want the wrath of the Rev for wrongly linking a pdf.

  65. Jack Beck says:

    @morgan mc
    “peace organization” attempting to prevent the West from defending itself against Soviet aggression.

    You wouldn’t be talking about CND would you?

    My giddy aunt!

  66. scottish_skier says:

    Gatestone Institute

    That’s the rampant right-wing / neo-liberal think-tank in New York yes?

    Reputation for being very pro-isreali and islamophobic.

    I imagine they check for lefties under the bed each night before getting in. 🙂

  67. Ian Brotherhood says:

    Someone said Danny Alexander’s coming to Glasgow on Friday. Is it true? Must be a food bank in need of an official opening. He’s good at that stuff.

    And William Hague as well? Why on earth would he want to come to Scotland?

    No, seriously – why?

  68. Doug Daniel: “Utter pish.”

    Indeed, but along with the rest of the MSM, on matters of independence that has long been the commodity in which they trade.

    And the rabidly Unionist academics? Carnival barkers trotted out to provide newly minted manure to a compliant press.

    From horseshit all the way to pish, between them they’ve pretty much cornered the market in excreta.

  69. Taranaich says:

    A great year for democracy is at hand go out and prove it on all fronts, not just the narrow myopic view that Westminster is the root cause of all of Scotlands woes.

    Certainly not all, but an independence Scotland would at least be able to confront Brussels on its own terms: right now, there is precisely nothing Scotland can do about, for example, Spain’s monopoly on our fishing waters: as a member ourselves, we can. And certainly while Westminster isn’t responsible for *all* of Scotland’s woes, it’s certainly responsible for the vast majority, I think.

  70. Ian Brotherhood says:

    @morgan mc –

    ‘A great year for democracy is at hand go out and prove it on all fronts, not just the narrow myopic view that Westminster is the root cause of all of Scotlands woes.’

    It’s the cause of enough to be going on with for now, thanks all the same.

  71. alexicon says:

    “over the past few weeks ive talked about the referendum to approx 10-12 people i have never met before, not 1 has been a no voter. i dont believe the polls”

    @David and others?
    A little tip I learned was to carry sheet of declaration slips around with me and when I encounter YES voters I ask them to sign the declaration form to reinforce their resolve.
    When I’ve collected enough signatures I just hand them over to my local YES campaigner.

    You can get the forms here;

    I’m the only one who feels things are moving in the right direction?

    Yes wins Napier referendum

    80% for yes.

    School #indyref debate produces spectacular swing to Yes

    18% swing.

  72. Ken500 says:

    All the good social Laws/Environmnt Laws come from the EU. Quotas for encouraging Renewables – cheapest and best – except Nuclear. Europe have been into renewable energy for years. tidal barrages, solar etc, Tenerife has had wind turbines for years.

    The EU has good social Laws, maternity/fraternity leave, legislating on hours people work. So people in essential jobs, do not work to long hours and make themselves and others ill with stress etc. UK workers have the longer hours in Europe. The Unions have become, secondary to EU on employment rights.

    The Open EU markets for members, make it easier to trade. The EU can negotiate trade deals with countries which have restricted markets or operate trade barriers, by taxing incoming goods, ie US, India, China, Brazil etc.

  73. morgan mc says:

    No doubt I grant you . Which part of the EU Commission analysis was untrue?
    Whats wrong with being pro israeli? Islam has its own problems and given that there are 1.5million Israeli Arabs the majority of whom are muslim and not into jihad.I find your analysis tinged with your own phobia.

  74. DMyers says:

    This was an interesting piece, but one thing I would take issue with is something that I have seen and heard so many times: “In the end, we get the politicians we deserve.”

    It’s about as true as the assertion that we were all responsible for the nefarious activities of the News of the World (presumably because some people bought it, neglecting the fact that the majority of people didn’t buy it but are now damned by association). Presumably those who voted against those who are actually elected are similarly responsible for those very people being elected? I can see the argument that those who don’t vote get the politicians they deserve, due to the fact that (as Stu has said before) they’re clearly happy to put up with whomever ends up being elected; but everyone else? Not necessarily.

    Do we really get the politicians we deserve? I wouldn’t say so. Perhaps the politicians we deserve are the very people who would probably do a much better job of it, i.e. people who wouldn’t be seen dead in a political party and who either have experience of running things or who actually give a shit about other people and about important issues. But until the very broken facade of what passes for democracy in this part of the world is fixed, that’s not going to change any time soon.

    Sorry, that’s really depressing 🙂

  75. Gray says:

    @John D
    Excellent article but for some reason i cannot share it

    Same problem here.

    I seem to have been posting too many Yes stories to my facebook wall recently. Seems like the KGB have stepped in to stop this.


  76. Ken500 says:

    Hague and Alexander will get an appropriate welcome in Glasgow.

  77. Hetty says:

    Just for my pennies worth, it seems clear that Labour has been assimilated into the Tory mindset, hating the poor etc etc… My friends south of the border, but north of England are terrified, of what? Right wing ideology taking hold, with a YES vote here in Scotland, the political climate will change, for the good of all who do believe in any kind of democracy.

  78. morgan mc says:

    Having collective standards is one thing. The EU in Bruseels having an apparatus of statehood and government is another. When it on its own starts issuing policy that our elected leaders are expected to put through their own regional parlaiment. That is the issue.

    The 27 person Commission is unelected by anyone in Scotland or the UK. If you think thats ok then go ahead. I don’t.

  79. Ken500 says:

    There is a 10 mile exclusive fishing zone, then a one hundred mile fishing zone for each respective Ports. There are no? Spanish fishing boats In Scottish waters. Definitely none in the East coast. In the West? 110 miles out. The fishermen were overfished the sea. There has to be conservation or no fishing industry. The best of Scottish fishing/beef products go to markets in France/Spain for top dollar. It is better for the fishing industry to be represented by someone from Scotland with farming/fishing knowledge, instead of a Home Counties Tory.

  80. Doonfooter says:

    Alexicon – I was at the Prestwick Academy debate last night manning the Yes Scotland information stand both before and after the debate.

    Full marks to Prestwick Academy pupils for organising last night (with the help of their modern studies teachers I believe). Great line up for a Question Time style debate. Blair Jenkins led the Yes team of three with Blair MacDougall leading the BT three. BBC’s Ken MacDonald was in the Chair.

    Robust debate. Several bouts of spontaneous applause for the Yes team and maybe surpisingly some moments of stunned silence at the No team. Our info stand was somewhat mobbed by pupils after the debate nearly clearing us out of leaflets and badges. All the panellists were also available after in the foyer for cross-examining by the pupils.

    Despite the good vibes I was somewhat nervous waiting for the results to be announced this afternoon.

    Spring in my step this afternoon and well done to all involved.

  81. Faltdubh says:

    Terrific news on the Prestwick turn around. That along with Dundee, Napier and a few others which I forget at the moment, that once you people are shown the debate, a huge number move towards Yes.

    Someone with a Wiki account should stick them in the “Schools and Universities polling” section.,_2014#Opinion_polling

    To help fight the good fight!

    The article is terrific and like many have said, it should be posted to every old Labour/Socialist voter around.

    We can win this!

  82. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Do we really get the politicians we deserve? I wouldn’t say so”

    Answer me this: have we risen up and angrily driven the current lot into the sea with pitchforks and flaming torches? There you go, then.

  83. Ian Brotherhood says:

    @Doonfooter –

    Congrats mister – sounds like a good night’s work there.

  84. John grant says:

    Good article, these people are not fighting for the union , they don’t give a shit about the union , there fighting to keep things the the way they are .
    I hope it’s not just me but I can feel a genuine change is coming , roll on 18 September .

  85. Ken500 says:

    The EU Commission is non elected because the roles are rotated, to give smaller members equal access to representative positions. If they were elected the largest countries would dominate the representative position. Ie Ireland was recently the hosting/chair member. It is not only the largest members who can dominated. A foreign affairs Chairman is Lithuanian. A UKIP member was abusing him in the EU Parliament. ‘Suggesting there would no longer be a Foreign minister in the UK’. Rubbish. There will be two, one for Scotland and on for the rest of the UK.

  86. Craig says:

    I have massive respect for Alex Salmond and I am sure many, many people in Scotland do as well.

    How could the SNP have won 47% of the vote if the voters didn’t respect Alex Salmond?

    The No campaign led by the BBC have made it its central policy to repeatedly smear Alex Salmond because it knows that Alex Salmond is one of the best, if not the best, politician in the whole of the EU and beyond.

  87. morgan mc says:

    Ken500 Catherine Ashton has never been voted to any position in political office. I think your missing the point.
    I look forward to taking up the post Fiona Hyslop currently has. I am not elected to Holyrood but Mr Salmond will give me the gig anyway. That is the argument you are making.

    Having watched the footage you speak off.The UKIP member does not abuse the deputy foreign minister of Lithuania. He points out to him that when Lisbon Treaty reaches its fulfilment. The role of member state foreign ministers will be redundant. The minister agreed that it was a “toxic file”.

    The EU Commissioner Vivien Redding was very open that the EU Commission is seeking to take control and make Europe a “united states of europe”.Given that the 50 states of the USA are not independent and neither were the 15 nations that made up the Soviet Union. I don’t think you grasp the concept.

    At least senator Kerry has been elected to serve as US foreign secretary. He represents the interests of the 50 states that make up that country. Miss Ashton hasn’t.

  88. msean says:

    Is Mr Kerry still a senator? I thought he had been nominated by President Obama and approved by the relevant committees,I was sure he had to give up his senatorial seat to become part of the executive.

  89. jake says:

    Some cynic once said ” if they thought that democracy was going to change anything they’d never have given you a vote”.
    There’s an uncomfortable truth in statement though.Yet,here we are, with a vote in a referendum we were never meant to have and in this and at this time uniquely we, the demos, have an opportunity to prove the cynic wrong and to confound “they” if they exist and who ever they might be. I say uniquely because if we vote NO and that cynic is right “they” will not repeat the miscalculation nor allow the happen-chance of another opportunity.

  90. ian foulds says:

    Christian Wright
    Voting YES risks failure; voting NO guarantees it.

    Further to Mr Gaughan’s request, I too would like to use this phrase elsewhere – and also Mrs Howden’s quote which sums up our attitude to those in charge (extending back to The Bruce (Treaty of Arbroath) and no doubt before that time).

  91. Chris says:

    This article is hugely important, in fact I can’t stop thinking about it. I would like to outline my journey from No to Yes in the hope that it might help in some way.

    Until recently I was a fairly committed unionist (having been pro-independence when I was younger). I think I gradually became a unionist for the following reasons:

    * I had a lot of English friends at university who I liked and respected
    * My wife is English
    * I lived and worked for many years in England and again developed many friendships etc.
    * My son was born in Cheltenham
    * Being British seemed like the intelligent, tolerant, sophisticated and generally “grown up” way to be
    * “If it ain’t broke why fix it?”

    So, what started to shake the foundations of my faith?

    * My fundamentally Scottish identity
    * The Conservative Party (in particular its most recent and damaging incarnation)
    * The Liberal Democrats (I was a party member, but never again – they are the ultimate opportunistic ("Tractor" - Ed)s to their own principles)
    * Being in Hong Kong for the last three years (moving back to Scotland in March), I have been living in a Tory paradise – I dread the thought of Scotland going the same way

    Finally, what committed me (and my wife) to supporting the Yes movement?

    * As I was moving back to Scotland, I wanted to bring myself up to speed on the debate, and so I read the White Paper.
    * I found Wings over Scotland, Bella Caledonia etc.

    In the White Paper and these blogs I found a vision of what Scotland might be that I could believe in. This was a future that wasn’t based on past grievances and anti-English sentiment, but on self-belief, self-determination and a new and fairer start.

    So, based on my experiences, the success of the Yes campaign is all about recognizing the disillusionment many No and undecided voters feel and getting details of the Yes argument to them. I believe the White Paper is hugely important, but slow burning. Blogs such as Wings over Scotland are an amazing resource and I will be donating on a regular basis from now on. Importantly, it is essential to avoid anti-English sentiment and harking back to history as I believe this is a huge turn off for undecided voters.

  92. alexicon says:


    Welcome back…again. 🙂

  93. ian foulds says:

    With reference to Craig’s comment on 15 January, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I cannot comment on the SNP Leader’s capabilities as a man or politician but, I am aware that an apparently considerable number of the fair sex do not find him endearing in either shape or form.

    Maybe our cause could be served better by a number of the fair sex who know him well, publicising his agreeability as a politician and human being and, by so doing, possibly help to convert No votes to Yes?

  94. ian foulds says:

    Chris welcome back in more ways than one and welcome to your wife.

    I am still an expatriate and am really only looking to come home to a different, new, exciting and vibrant Scotland, with a future, in the next 12 months.

    A Scotland my grand-children can flourish in and one where the two who are resident in England will eventually be proud to see as a beacon of fairness in a Europe we can also influence despite its current ‘rulers’.

  95. Chris says:

    alexicon – thanks, glad to be back!

    Ian – my sentiments exactly.

  96. Morag says:

    I do remember, quite a few years ago, Alex Salmond was not considered to be unattractive. I recall accusations that women were being swayed to vote SNP “because of Alex Salmond’s big brown eyes”. He does have rather mesmeric big brown eyes, as I can attest having been on the receiving end of The Stare a few times.

    I think it’s all propaganda. Throw enough mud at the man, tell people they loathe him, and after a while a proportion of people will start to believe it.

  97. creigs1707repeal says:

    A fine piece of writing, David. Thank you for that.

    Nof, for the many undecided voters out there, consider this. When you enter the polling booth on 18th September, take a few moments to consider the small piece of paper you hold in your hands and think about what it represents. It represents power,real power in your hands for the first time ever, a vote in your hands that will not be influenced or made irrelevant by whatever England votes.

    Now, you have a choice. You can place your X in the NO box and hand the real power that you hold in your hands in that moment back to Westminster.

    Or you can mark your X in the YES box and keep hold of that power for yourself, to help build a better society for yourself, your children and your children’s children.

    Westminster had their chance–307 years–to make Scotland the kind of society we all want to see. Look around you–they have failed miserably and just goes to prove the old maxim: if you want a thing done well, do it yourself.

    Use your X to give yourself a chance to do it yourself, to do it properly.

  98. CameronB says:

    OT, sorry. You can add the Telegraph to publications that delete comments without notification. I just posted one that pointed a finger at light-touch regulation, the Corporation of the City of London, money laundering and the English balance of payments benefiting from the international drugs trade.

    Only lasted about ten minutes or so. Funny that.

  99. CameronB says:

    Sorry. just found my post. Perhaps WOS is being monitored in real time? 🙂

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